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Traveling to Korea


U.S. Armed Forces members on assignment to Korea (permanent or temporary) must read and understand the following information concerning the Republic of Korea (ROK) Military Service and Nationality Laws. Members must also consider whether they have dependents that could be affected by the ROK Military Service Act.

1. Under the ROK Conscription Law, all male citizens of the ROK are obligated to serve at least 18 months in the ROK military. The conscription age under the current law is 18 to 35. The Korean government is enforcing this law upon U.S. citizens (including service members) who either hold U.S.-ROK dual citizenship or hold ROK citizenship with permanent resident status in the U.S. It is important to note, even if you are above the age of conscription, you may still face legal issues when entering the ROK until the age of 45.   

Additional information on the Korean Military Service System can be accessed through the ROK Military Manpower Administration at https://www.mma.go.kr/index.do (Korean) and https://www.mma.go.kr/eng/index.do (English)

2. If either parent was a ROK citizen at the time of the service member’s (or dependent’s) birth, no matter what country the service member (or dependent) was born in, the ROK considers such a person to have ROK citizenship. Males must renounce ROK citizenship before March 31st of the year they turn 18, or they will be required to fulfill their ROK military service obligation. Joining the U.S. military does not constitute renunciation of ROK Citizenship.

3. A Korean citizen who emigrates to the U.S. and becomes a U.S. citizen through naturalization automatically loses the Korean citizenship under ROK law. Such a person has an affirmative duty to report the naturalization to a Korean Consulate or the Ministry of Justice to ensure that his or her name is deleted from the Family Census Register. Report process can be found here. It is important to note that failure to report loss of Korean nationality and deletion from the Family Register to ROK authorities may cause issues for individuals when entering the ROK.

4. If you are of Korean descent and are uncertain if you or your children may have ROK citizenship, we urge you to consult with the nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate regarding potential obligations before traveling to or entering the ROK for further guidance. Locations can be found here. Processing times may vary and official resolutions could take from three to eight months.